Monday, 17 May 2010

A Grand Coalition?

Writing in yesterday's Independent Chris Huhne argued that we were in the midst of a national crisis and that a national coalition was the proper reaction to the situation.

.......the strongest governments in our own history have been coalitions in pursuit of a clear goal. Sir Winston Churchill's government – the last to have Liberals in the cabinet – saw us through the darkest days of our history to ultimate victory in 1945.
Few can doubt the difficulties we face nor that the public would wish us to lay aside our differences to tackle the crisis. When you realise the breadth of the coalition you recognise that it spans a vast swath of opinion. It is easy to mock those who are outside the agreement as representatives of narrow sectional interests who were unable to put party before country. Like many I would have wished that Labour were ready to join a government at this time but there is ample evidence that they are more absorbed with their own internal issues that they are with the nation's needs. 
I certainly don't fear being swallowed up. By the next election maybe the Labour party will have sorted itself out and be willing to enter government with another party-and the leadership able to take its backbenchers with it. The aftermath of the Lib Lab pact demonstrated to many of us at the time the necessity of getting an agreement that was supported by the whole Labour Party and not just by the central leadership. Then like now many Labour backbenchers were not on board and ready to wreck.
I was chatting with resident in Birkdale who observed that the young folk seemed to have no problem with the deal. I reflected that all the old Liberal in the party readily saw the sense of it. Those who had the 'dark night of the soul' were often ex Lab and ex SDP. And so it was that Tony Greaves had to guide Lord McNally  to a clearer vision. We've all spent too long in local government with no overall control to be spooked by such an agreement. We looked at the policy not at the party and recognised it was the best on offer. Anyway as McNally said he has a job working for the Minister of Justice who as far more liberal than all his New Labour predecessors! 

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